Drinking with my ladybrain, debut edition

Let me get this out of the way now: I am horribly allergic to almost anything that can be characterized as chick lit or a chick flick. Am I a snob? Yes. Do I make exceptions? Sometimes. [1] Does the mere mention of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood drive me into a frenzy? Absolutely.

I really do hate how women are condescended to by marketers, how they think we only want to see romantic comedies with dreamy leading men who somehow find our vulnerability and clumsiness just adorable. Give me a Will Ferrell or Christopher Guest movie any day over the schmaltz of a Kate Hudson rom-com. And don’t get me started on Sex and the City. Books about four women and how their lives diverged after college? No. I read The Group when I was 15 and nothing else will come close, so I won’t even try that tired genre.

I could use a glass of wine after all that complaining, and I've barely scratched the surface. But how do I choose? After all, I'm just a girl, right? Aren't my purchasing decisions based on frills and bling and pink and sweet desserts, or on sly references to sneaking a drink with my galpals while the kids nap?

Yes, the wine industry has gone all-out to ensure that women know which wines are meant for us. One of the first to venture into the wine for women category was the seductively named Mad Housewife. I confess that I was quite taken by this one because the woman in their ad looks somewhat like me (albeit with airbrushing and much better nails):


I tasted one of their wines some time ago, and was not impressed. But there are lots more to choose from now - Bitch, Middle Sister, Lulu B, among many names that unequivocally say "this is girl wine."

But with cute names far from the usual Chateau Pretentieux, are these wines at all drinkable? Or are women once again doing more of the work for less of a payoff? Are we paying for marketing and cutesy names and getting an inferior product? So that's why I decided to cross-pollinate my interest in branding with my expanding wine knowledge and actually taste some of these wines.

First up on the list was a pinot grigio by Cupcake. Yep, because why not hop on that trend? The Cupcake brand is wholeheartedly dedicated to women – so much so that they have a link to "bridal headquarters" on their site. I can’t argue with their practice of offering interesting varietals from around the world under one brand – their pinot grigio hails from Italy, their sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, among others – but does the wine measure up in the glass when the consumer actually knows something about wine?

Well, not the pinot grigio. I tasted it before I read the copy on the back label of the bottle, and found it light-bodied and flabby, with less acid than I expect in a pinot grigio. 

The label copy describes the wine as being like “a pear cupcake with white chocolate.” Well, I'll cede that point to the marketers – that's EXACTLY what it tasted like. Unfortunately, that's not at all what we want our pinot grigio tasting like! A respite of 15 minutes in the glass did the wine no favors at all – after that exposure to air, it tasted as if it had been diluted by half with water.

So, round one goes to the marketers and not the taste buds. The Cupcake pinot grigio will make a fine cooking wine.

Stay tuned for round two![2]

[1] I confess to loving Music and Lyrics, with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, largely because of Hugh Grant's irresistible portrayal of an Andrew Ridgeley-esque washed-up half of a pop (or POP!) duo.
[2] For a fine use of "lady brain," see this seminal Daily Show report by Samantha Bee.


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  • 9/7/2011 6:30 PM CGHill wrote:
    I must thank you for "Chateau Pretentieux," which actually brought a smile to my insufficiently-careworn face.
  • 9/7/2011 6:54 PM Jessica Stone Levy wrote:
    If only I had the proper accent marks in this program to make it even better! Thank you for reporting the smile, and I hope to offer more obnoxious commentary soon.
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